Transparency & flexibility: How this business is changing the game for women in transport and insurance

Transparency & flexibility: How this business is changing the game for women in transport and insurance

How do you create a great place to work for women, particularly in male dominated sectors like transport logistics, and finance?

At NTI, a transport and logistics specialist insurer, transparency and communication are key, according to Chief People and Operations Officer Kerrie Challenor.

But also essential is caring about your people — and, with that, offering the flexibility and the opportunities all staff need to excel at work.

Challenor says that at NTI, team members now have the option of working flexibility for 50% of each fortnight for the foreseable future. While flexible work was offered previously, the COVID-19 period has provided a major cultural shift regarding how it’s taken up and accessed.

“We have seen male executives who would never have dreamed of working from home, and they’re now doing so one or two days a week,” she says.

When it comes to those who are now working flexibly, Challenor says men are taking up the opportunity almost as much as women: with 54% of female staff working flexibly, and 46% of male staff.

As a result, Challenor says she’s seeing less stress among their people and less time traveling, and she’s anecdotally hearing reports on what team members with kids can now do during the week, thanks to the added flexibility that comes with remote work.

And, just as important, she says the business has reported no drop in productivity.

Overall, the flexibility offerings alongside care for people, transparency and communication, is working in getting more women into their business, a business at the intersection of two traditionally male-dominated fields: insurance and transport. Their business is now 51.37% female.

Women’s Agenda spoke to a number of team members at NTI to learn about their experiences, and how NTI’s provided a stepping stone to a career they may not have previously imagined or thought possible.

As Challenor said, a key piece they’ve found essential is in ensuring employees have a range of options  available to them. That may be through a promotion – or otherwise, through project work, secondments or being invited to explore a completely new area. Diversity of thought is critical to our future success.

Gemma Lipovski is NTI’s Insights & Analytics Manager, and made the move into the business from the superannuation sector.

She says it was a challenge moving into a new field, but a welcome one that’s enabled her to learn a whole new lanaguage around the transport sector: around the terminology, on how data (her area of expertise) is used and shared.

Having been with the business for three years now, she says being able to talk to and ask questions of those who have more experience in the sector has been key. But she also notes a number of other traits and initiatives that make it a satisfying place to work. There is no micro-managing, she says. It’s not about committees and red tape. Rather, they’re about empowering people.

Gemma Lipovski is NTI’s Insights & Analytics Manager. Sarah Keayes/The Photo Pitch

She wants more women to see the opportunities available in transport, even within organisations that sit separately to what you’d traditionally think of as transport.

“I would say to women considering these careers to not be intimidated,” she says. “There is a lot to learn, but that’s every industry. There is a lot of interesting innovation happening with data, in so many fascinating areas.”

“As we saw with COVID, the transport industry keeps this country going. It’s an essential sector.”

Gemma Lipovski

Brooke Caldwell is NTI’s National Heavy Motor Product Manager. She says she ended up in the insurance sector fresh out of high school, then found her way more specifically into transport insurance 14 years ago.

It’s an area she’s now extremely passionate about — but one with plenty of challenges, particularly given the events of the past year: the bushfires over the 2019/20 Summer season, floods in the following months and of course then the pandemic.

“All of these situations require a lot of flexibility and practical thinking about our customers and how both myself and NTI want to be there for our customers and, more broadly, for the transport industry.

She says that in the past, both transport and insurance has traditionally been “a boy’s club” but things are changing.

“Not all insurance companies are created equal in this respect, but we are seeing pockets of change across some insurers and brokers. The more women step up and express what they want for their careers, the better their chances of driving their future in this industry and creating real change for equality.”

Brooke Caldwell is NTI’s National Heavy Motor Product Manager. Sarah Keayes/The Photo Pitch

She also wants to see more women considering roles in transport, and notes the diversity of opportunities available, from marketing to claims handling, data analytics, broking and so much more. “It’s an industry you will always learn something from,” she says.

“So get on in there and don’t be intimidated, give it a try.”

Challenor, meanwhile, has had 40 years in the insurance industry and says she’s seen a lot of change in recent years. In transport, much of that change has occurred with the growing number of female drivers directly getting involved, but also with women taking on operations roles within the family and small to medium-sized transport companies. In insurance, she’s directly seen teams and leadership positions filling with women.

“There have been many times when I’ve been the only woman in the room. I don’t experience that now!”

Kerrie challenor

On the flexibility piece, Challenor is particularly pleased to see men taking it up in similar numbers to women.

“People are really appreciating the benefits of that. We are not seeing productivity suffer at all. People are wanting to give that little bit of extra discretionary effort. That’s what comes from really good family-friendly workplace policies. If you don’t have that, people may only put in the minimal effort that’s expected of them.”

Kerrie Challenor is NTI’s Chief People and Operations Officer. Photo by Sarah Keayes/The Photo Pitch

She also highlights just how essential transparency and communication has been in creating the culture they have — alongside offering great professional development, as well as opportunities for people to move into different areas and get challenged with completely different types of work and thinking.

But ultimately, this is a business that has been working at creating a great culture for years — it’s not something that’s happenned overnight.

“It’s at every level, especially in the executive team. We don’t hide away from stories. We tell people what’s going on, good and bad. We are open and transparent. The executive isn’t distant from our people . We spend a lot of time talking to to them , and thanks to zoom meetings we  have had a small glimpse into their lives outside the office.”

And at the heart of it, has been intentionally caring for people. “It is obvious in the little things that we do and say, in how we live and breathe our values,” she says. “We care about their wellbeing, their future, their family, all of them.”

This partner piece was support by NTI, as a means to showcase the range of opportunities available in transport and insurance. You can explore career opportunities with NTI here.

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